Saturday, 3 March 2012

Ramblings: Messages from the Other Side


There are many reasons I’m grateful that I’ve given up drinking now. My moods are better, my liver is cleaner and happier and the risks of cancer are lower. I fall over less. More importantly, I can no longer send drunken texts.

I was planning on patenting an invention, a mobile phone with built in breathalyser and finger alcohol level analyser. One glass of spirits too many and the phone would detect drink in the sweat or breath and lock you out barring all but 999 calls and desperate pleas for help to a nominated next of kin. This would of course stop the one eyed drunken texts to the ex, the friend you’re a little bit miffed with or the misguided social networking update telling the world about a grisly one night stand you’ve just had. I would miss those updates though. I enjoy a good drunken Facebook rant or a vitriolic drunken relationship breakdown broadcast for the world as much as the next man would.

My problem was that I could be a spiteful drunk. I was generally happy when tipsy but I had a line and once it was crossed a whole arsenal of mental knives sprang out, poised to wound. They were usually pointed, cunningly, at the keyboard of my mobile phone. I’m generally mild mannered. I rarely suffer fools but I try to be nice and try hard not to wound or hurt. Not so when drunk and in charge of a phone.

I recall (vaguely) several years ago, sitting with my tongue poking out of one side of my mouth, one eye closed, so I could focus, tapping away. I was awash with vodka and slumped on the kitchen floor, back leaning haphazardly against a worktop. The text went off and I passed out.

A hideous creeping horror overtook me the next morning as I blearily checked the sent items. It was sadly true. I’d sent a recent ex a vitriolic text. I immediately sent an apologetic message, desperately trying to retract and explaining my shameful drunken state.  A message came back:

“I don’t believe you were drunk. Your grammar was perfect.”

OK, my message had contained apostrophes but they always do. It had taken me half an hour to find the apostrophe on the keyboard and I’d had a nap in between but hey ho. I bitterly regretted that message. Not enough to stop me though.

Volleys of texts to exes, a message telling a friend I hated her choice of boyfriend (I did), odd random comments with no meaning but much shame. It was hopeless. One drunken night I hit upon a plan. I’d hide my phone. This worked as well as you’d expect. I’d hidden it and unsurprisingly, I knew where to find it too.

My next great idea was to send an evil text then delete it so I didn’t have to worry about it. This worked even less well. I’d wake up the next morning with a nagging sinking feeling and then spend days trying to remember who I’d insulted or wait to find out by proxy.

One particular short term relationship of more recent times ended badly. Unfortunately, he’d had an intermittent minor personal hygiene problem which I was of course way too tactful to ever mention. I don’t recall sending the text calling him “Halibut Knob” after we split up but I certainly regret it. I just hope it helped him somehow and changed his cleansing routine.

I disapproved of a friend’s ongoing behaviour and selfishness and was planning on tactfully telling him and gradually breaking off the friendship. One innocuous text message from him plus a bottle or two of wine for me led to a rather more dramatic ending to it and a lot of harm to my reputation. Another (ironic) text telling a friend I thought she needed help for her drink problem didn’t go down so well either. Fortunately I stopped drinking soon afterwards.

It’s good to be sober. I was way too good at the psycho messaging. It’s not so good to be sober if you’re at a work’s party or a family wedding of course, in which case it’s mandatory to be drunk to get through it, or best avoided.

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